Amongst the A to Z of brass rock bands, I've long scratched my head to think beyond the names of the UK's contribution coming from Heaven, If and Satisfaction, and remained unsure about Keef Hartley's bigger groups. Imagine my surprise (name the US brass rockers?), when recently the liberally minded Jazz Music Archives recommended the CD reissues of an early 70's UK band, Rock Workshop. Added surprise came from discovering the legendary Alex Harvey was the band's voice, in a time before SAHB made headlines. And for a jazz fusionist afficiado, guitarist Ray Russell's name as leader, teased.
Having purchased both their albums from Amazon, I have been particularly pleased with the band's second studio recording'The Very Last Time', which for the purposes of this CD, has some added live pieces. The brass rock here owes something to Chicago's late 60's/early 70's sound, but the good sax solos give something not heard with Chicago, and there is a great deal deal more of a jazz feel in the solo work - especially the purely instrumental-only tracks. It is pleasure to hear Harvey's voice in this setting, bookending several songs and giving their opening/closing bars a rock bluesy heaviness that Chicago rarely went for. Indeed the addition of a lady, I believe from the liner notes called Ginger, we are given blues-based brass rock echoing that of the SF band Cold Blood. One weakness are the lyrics, largely giving a drippy hippy sentiment or three - therefore dropping the album half a star.
So I have to asked myself why did I miss the band the first time around, when IMHO they are superior to Heaven and Satisfaction - even so, If still remain the favourites?